Melbourne group Riot Expert have re-launched a very special music night called Shady Lane and The Wandering Lamb are very excited to be supporting it! Showcasing hand-picked local and national music every Wednesday night at the iconic The Evelyn Hotel, on Brunswick St, Melbourne. Staying true to our moto “a passion for music, with an urge to share”, our support with such events was inevitable and we are proud to support two very hardworking industry people who share the same drive. Welcome, Gemma and Dugald the hardworking team behind Shady Lane.
“We thought you were a different James – a James we knew – but then you rocked up and it wasn’t!” Er, thanks, we think, guys? Luckily this case of mistaken identity has worked out well. The Wandering Lamb creator (AKA James, Blog Shepherd and Chief Editor), Gemma and Dugald hit it off over a few drinks and chatted about what prompted the duo to create Shady Lane, and why they wanted Wandering Lamb in on the fun. ” Gemma and I met through a music industry program called Freeza Mentoring Program. It is where you get an industry pro to mentor you for a few months. It is a great program and worth checking out. When it came to meeting The Wandering Lamb, “We came across you guys sharing one of our Facebook posts” says Dugald “the re-launch event on your Gig-Guide. I was like Gemma, we should email these guys!”
So what, metaphorically, is Shady Lane? Where is it? “It’s somewhere in Japan, I reckon…There’s a cherry blossom tree there somewhere” Gemma thinks, but Dugald has always imagined in somewhere in Europe, “..its really late at night, and you’re stumbling around in a Shady Lane”. The physical images that accompany the promotion of the night, however, are unmistakably Fitzroy; Shady Lane has an exciting international vibe with a local focus.
Around November last year Gemma was interning at The Evelyn – that’s right followers, you can intern at a pub, every twenty-something’s dream right? – when she came up with the idea of hosting a night that brought the local indie rock scene back to the Evelyn, something the venue were looking to do at the time. After a couple of false starts and six months later, Gemma rebranded the little known Shady Lane night that had already existed at the Evelyn, turning it into a safe haven for local bands looking for a space to play. “Its got the branding behind it that allows small bands to be able to play a gig with some branding already behind it, ” says Dugald, “so they can sort of attach themselves to the brand of Shady Lane.”
“Think of Shady Lane as a reliable destination for good live, local music…”
Ultimately they would like the event to be a night that people come to, regardless of who’s playing. Think of Shady Lane as a reliable destination for good live, local music, and Dugald and Gemma will know they have done their job. In a flourishing scene such as Melbourne’s inner-north, an event has to be different. For the Riot Expert duo it was calibre of music that puts Shady Lane a cut above the others.
“We really try our hardest to book bands that uphold the name of Shady Lane, I guess” Gemma says. Her blog – Casual Band Blogger, has also been helpful in this process – both through promoting Shady Lane and discovering acts to book. “As a booker you really need to be aware [of local acts], and keeping my finger on the pulse of local talent for the blog helps”. Their partnership approach seems to be a factor as well, “Gemma handles the actual booking, and I cover the admin part – worksheets and backline and stuff” says Dugald, “and we also have the suavest dressed sound guy in Melbourne”
So, why The Evelyn Hotel?
“Why not the Evelyn?” quips Dugald. In their eyes, it’s a reliable venue for bookers and for punters; long staying drink specials, solid residency’s and great weekend acts. And they cater for different tastes; Gemma prefers the early week spread of indie, soul and funk acts while Dugald digs the heavier acts on the weekend. “It’s a venue we like to be associated with, there’s very few negative things you can say about it – other than hearsay, and we’re working on changing that anyway.”
It was the Evelyn who brought the hard-workng team of Gemma and Duglad together. After crossing paths a few times before, it was the internship at the well known pub and live music institution that gave them the opportunity to work together. “We’ve gotta give credit to Jack who books the Evelyn”, they agree. And as a space for bands, they can’t praise it any higher. “We’re trying to make those bands realise how good the room is – I reckon its one of the best rooms in Melbourne. “Its one of the best mid-sized rooms in Melbourne” agrees Dugald “It’s one of my favorite shaped rooms”.
“we are kind of leaning toward the alternative indie side of things”
When it comes to picking acts each week, the duo are trying to keep it as broad as possible “but we are kind of leaning toward the alternative indie side of things,” says Dugald. The trick is to have a balanced line-up that works well together, they explain, and to provide an event that appeals to the bands, as well as being financially feasible for Dugald and Gemma. “A lot of bands are concerned with money,” says Gemma, “and while that’s understandable, at this level there are very few bands making a lot of money. I’ll go to a huge effort to get this done, but at the end of the day I’ve only got a limited amount of time and money.”
Shady Lane aside, these two are local scene regulars. “I’m a fan of the heavier side,” explains Dugald, “bit of metal, but mostly the hard rock or heavy rock scene. I’ve done a bit of touring, a bit of everything really. I love the Melbourne music scene, there’s a big community here.”
Gemma also has her hands in a few musical pies. Having studied music business and journalism, she volunteered at a bunch of music festivals before starting up her own music blog – the Casual Band Blogger. “I didn’t know what I wanted to do, I didn’t know how to start anything, and then I started writing for AU Review, and then my blog started last year, and I’ve managed bands, and I also make good coffee.”
It kind of makes sense, then, to go to these guys for tips on new acts to look out for. “The Trotskies, obviously, because I manage them,” jokes Gemma. But seriously, The Trotskies are a local shoegaze post punk outfit with a new single out in October, and they are worth a listen. Check them out here. Louis Spoils is another one to watch according to Gemma, and the Brisbane expat is currently gigging around Melbourne, so keep your ears out, lambs. SleepMakesWaves is Dugald’s pick, a Sydney band who have just launched an album last month – you can have a listen here.
In terms of what the future holds for Shady Lane, the pair are pretty mysterious. A mini festival towards the end of the year is a possibility – and look out for a few changes next year, they hint. In the meantime, join us fellow lambs every Wednesday night for some excellent indie acts.
It’s no wonder there is so much excitement surrounding the re-launch of Shady Lane – from bands and punters alike – in the hands of these two, we predict some magical things happening at the Evelyn. Follow Shady Lane on Facebook for full lineups and future announcements.
Next Wednesday on September 3rd we will officially support Shady Lane and welcome to the stage the harmonious and indie-folk sounds of Sleepy Dreamers, with exceptional support from Young Vincent and Seven Year itch. It will be a cracking night topped off with music brought to you from The Wandering Lamb. Doors open at 8pm- $7 entry and drink specials to boot.